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A Reader of Fictions: He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother - The Hollies

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Monday, August 8, 2011

He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother - The Hollies

Rot & Ruin
Benny Imura, Book 1

Jonathan Maberry
Pages: 458
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Brief Summary:
Now that he's fifteen, Benny Imura has to find a job or lose his food rations. The search is not going particularly well. Nor is ignoring the fact that his one female best friend (the one all the guys promised, when they were younger, never to fall for) is really attractive and probably into him. Yet another reason to throw himself into the hunt for work, which leads him, eventually, to his only option: apprenticing with his much older brother, Tom. Benny hates Tom, who ran away with Benny on First Night, the night when the zoms rose, rather than saving their parents. Tom may be a badass bounty hunter to everyone else, but to Benny he's just a coward. On his first journey out of Mountainside (their small community) into the Rot & Ruin (pretty much everything else - a zombie-infested wasteland, Benny's going to learn a whole lot about the life he's led so far and his preconceptions.

At the outset, Benny is a bit of an obnoxious kid. He has some serious teen boy syndrome going on, what with the rebellion against his parental figure, whining, messing with a girl's feelings and idolization of whoever has the biggest muscles. Although this did help create sympathy for Tom and Nix, I still had trouble, even to the end of the novel, liking Benny, or Tom for that matter. Benny definitely got better, but he still has a lot of growing up to do. He wasn't completely awful and I didn't want him to die or anything, but he is not going down as a favorite either. Tom, while a really good guy, who I would probably have a bit of a crush on, just came off as way too much of a goody goody, even when you get to see him in action mode.

You know who I loved though? Nix and, to a lesser degree, Lilah. Although Rot & Ruin is written by a man and the main character is male and the main audience is likely teenage boys, most of the women in this novel still kick serious ass. Props to Jonathan Maberry for not writing about teenage girls who only talk about boys and trip all over themselves and constantly need to be saved. Honestly, I think Nix saves Benny's hide more often than he saves hers.

The dystopian aspects were pretty cool, although somewhat similar to the way Carrie Ryan's world reacted to the zombie menace, minus the crazy gates all over the place. Maberry didn't do anything too original with his worldbuilding, but its solid and the book is well-written. For zombie dystopias, I rank this way above Carrie Ryan's books, but still far below Mira Grant's Newsflesh series.

While I never got super engrossed into Rot & Ruin, perhaps because I just wasn't quite in the right mood, it was definitely a solid read and I am looking forward to the second book, Dust & Decay.

"It's a long, long road
From which there is no return
While we're on the way to there
Why not share
And the load
Doesn't weigh me down at all
He ain't heavy, he's my brother"

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Blogger Sonia said...

I own this book but haven't read it. Great review! Gotta read it soon. And I keep hearing positive comments of Mira Grant's Newsflesh series. Can't wait to read that too! :-)

May 28, 2012 at 8:45 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Mira Grant's Newsflesh series is my favorite zombie thing ever! SML.

Rot & Ruin is good fun!

May 30, 2012 at 11:40 AM  

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